JOHNSTOWN?- The Bishop McCort boys basketball team wanted to quickly forget about last Saturday's 63-30 loss to Bishop Carroll in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference title game.
Things went well for McCort early on as it started off hot from the field by dissecting Central Cambria's 2-3 zone.
But the Red Devils never backed down the entire game. However, senior Nemo Trexler poured in a game-high 29 points to lead McCort to a 68-63 victory in a District 6 Class AA game Wednesday night.
"The kids battled, the effort was great," Central Cambria coach Adam Stephan said. "Nemo was just a little too much for us tonight. He hit some really, really tough shots. It was just a little too much for us to handle tonight."
McCort (16-7) fed the high post in order to break down Central Cambria's zone. The Crushers hit four of their first six shots for a 10-5 lead with Trexler and fellow senior Nathan Neiderhiser (22 points) each hitting a trey. Central Cambria cut it to 14-12 at the end of the first.
"Let's face it, after Saturday night's showing, I was a little concerned," Bishop McCort coach Jerry Murphy said. "I thought we answered the bell and we worked hard. We're a team that if we get a little bit of a lead and we do well in the beginning of the game, we seem to build on that."
McCort increased its lead to 21-14 before the Red Devils (11-11) scored six consecutive points to cut it to one. Senior point guard Tanner Ambrisco scored four of those points while tallying 12 in the first half. Trexler hit two deep threes on consecutive possessions to build the lead back to 33-25.
"He hit some really tough three and we had a couple kids with hands in his face a couple times," Stephan said. "He's a solid all-around player. I thought we had guys in position and he knocked down the shots when he needed to."
The Red Devils answered the Trexler run with a Will Seymour (13 points) conventional three-point play, and a Dom Stevens putback to cut the lead to 33-29 at the half. Neiderhiser scored 12 points in the first half to go with Trexler's 11.
"He made three big 3s in the first half for us," Murphy said of Neiderhiser. "Plus he had to handle the point because Stephen Ingram got in early foul trouble. That's the first time he was at the point and I thought he handled the ball very well. The seniors came through big."
Just when it looked like McCort would run away with the game, the Devils answered with a run. McCort scored the first four points of the third before Central Cambria answered with a 5-0 run.
However, Trexler (11 third-quarter points) made two consecutive 3-pointers to increase the lead to 45-36.
Another Neiderhiser 3-pointer upped the lead to 50-39, but Ambrisco led a 6-0 run by scoring four points on his own to cut the lead to 50-45 heading into the fourth.
Trexler started the fourth coming off a screen and hitting a 3-pointer McCort built its lead back to eight before Central Cambria came back with another run.
The Red Devils cut it down to four with 2:40 left, and then again with 9.4 seconds left in the game. However, that was as close as they would get. McCort went 11-for-16 from the free-throw line in the fourth to seal the victory.
"We'd get it to within three or four, but we could never get over that little hump," Stephan said. "Overall, the kids in that locker room, I'm really proud of their effort."
Ambrisco scored 22 points in his last game as a Red Devil and helped keep his team within striking distance all night.
"He's been doing that all year for us," Stephan said about Ambrisco. "He's just a phenomenal player. When we had to hit a big shot, he stepped up. We were down 11 at one point and looked like it was going to get away from us a little bit and then he made a little spurt there to cut it back down to five. That's just the way he's been all year. Guys like Connor Homan who hit the boards hard and got a couple putbacks, Will Seymour taking it strong to the rim. It's been a solid team effort all year and we just came up a little bit short tonight."
CENTRAL CAMBRIA (63): Zearing 2 0-0 5, Ambrisco 8 4-5 22, Seymour 6 0-1 13, Homan 4 0-0 8, Leary 4 0-0 8, Gillen 1 0-0 3, Davis 0 0-0 0, Stevens 2 0-0 4. Totals - 27 4-6 63.
BISHOP MCCORT (68): Ingram 0 4-4 4, Trexler 8 7-9 29, Neiderhiser 8 2-6 22, Rugg 1 0-1 2, Helsel 2 5-6 9, Wade 0 2-2 2, Conahan 0 0-0 0, Coleman 0 0-0 0, Eckenrod 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 20-28 68.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Cambria12 17 16 18 - 63
Bishop McCort14 19 17 18 - 68
3-point field goals: Central Cambria 5 (Zearing, Ambrisco 2, Seymour, Gillen); Bishop McCort 10 (Trexler 6, Neiderhiser 4).
Records: Central Cambria (11-11); Bishop McCort (16-7).